I've been thinking about the word "anxiety" recently. I've been wondering how many people have seen an increase in anxiety as a result of the corona virus crisis. After all, COVID-19 has certainly impacted our culture adversely since it arrived on the scene. And, of course, there are differing degrees of anxiety. For example, a person who experiences anxiety over the possibility of contracting and dying of the corona virus has a different level of anxiety than the person who is panicking over a diminishing supply of toilet paper!
A search of GOD's Word discovers Biblical characters in the throes of anxiety. Each person faces a different crisis.
In Genesis 32, Jacob is returning home after many years away. His primary reason for leaving home was to escape the wrath of his brother, Esau, from whom Jacob had stolen the birthright and blessing from their father. Now, as Jacob nears his homeland, he hears that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob is immediately anxious - I probably would be as well! Angry brother. Bitter grudge. Long-standing hostility. Jacob expects and also dreads a horrible battle with his brother. In this case, the anxiety is caused by a broken relationship and a guilty conscience. But, as the story unfolds, Jacob's anxiety was unwarranted. The perceived confrontation instead became a "love fest" filled with hugs and forgiveness.
In I Samuel 1, Hannah experiences major anxiety because she cannot conceive a baby and she encounters on-going taunts by Peninnah, her husband’s other wife. Her anxiety results from her unfulfilled desires and also the harassment of her rival. Her anxiety leads to depression. Yet, in her depressed state, GOD blesses her with a baby boy, Samuel.
In Esther 4, the Jewish people experience a serious case of anxiety because they find out a royal decree has called for their massacre. On a personal note, if I found out someone was trying to kill me, I think I might get bitten by the "anxiety bug" as well!
Then, Queen Esther experiences anxiety because she makes plans to risk her life in order to save her people. In this book of the Bible, we learn that fear of death and of the unknown "kindle the flames" of anxiety. And, of course, you know the end of this story! Queen Esther succeeds and the people of GOD escape death.
Has the COVID-19 crisis increased your level of anxiety? Well, welcome to the "club." The "We Are Not Perfect Club." Club membership includes Jacob, Hannah, the Jewish people, and Queen Esther. And that's just a few of the many Biblical characters who experienced anxiety and also have membership in "the club."
So, with the COVID-19 running rampant in our world, just what are we supposed to do with our anxiety? Glad you asked! Let's turn to the Word of GOD. I can't beat the instruction Scripture gives us to remedy our anxieties.
Hebrews 13:6: “We can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
Philippians 4: 6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalm 42:5: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
I sincerely pray GOD's Word calms the spirits of those of you who are battling anxiety! Our GOD is on the throne! He is sovereign! He cares for us! After all, He is OUR Heavenly Father!
Goodbye, anxiety! Good riddance!